November 21, 2009

Steamed Buns

The Steamed Buns story behind this photo(10 p.m. 20th Nov) started early on Friday morning.

At 8 in the morning I was ready with my renewed strength and very high spirits for pao making! Using a 30 year old aluminium basin for the dough  my Mentor taught me the rudiments of Chinese Steamed Bun making. I have made paos before but this is a special refresher course with new ingredients and new tips. New culinary kung fu that is!!
Like an experienced teacher her lesson plan was very well executed and well timed. She looked at the clock consistently and we worked without any stalled moments. I was her assistant all the way - never once did I feel excluded or demoralised in this project.

Her vegetables were laid out and prepared for me to grate with another great utensil: a grater made/improved to become a very practical and convenient gadget by her husband - it thus becomes an age-old Foochow wood based grater which I think Jamie Oliver would be envious of. It sits beautifully across the sink and the vegetables can be grated easily and captured by a bowl below. Cleaning thus becomes minimal. It is really a good piece of engineering work (which I think my blogger friend David Chin would agree.)

After grating the vegetables we fried the filling .

By the time we finished cooking the filling the dough is ready for kneading - everything by hand.
No hooks and no machine. (Sorry Chef Wan)

Here are the blessed hands which make the best pao - famous in Miri and even in England and Australia. More than 38 years of experience in pao making!!

My mentor has kept this old old flour sack as the tea towel for keeping the drying wind out of the rising buns. We must never allow the dough to dry up. According to her doughs are very sensitive (like babies) and any little disturbance would cause the dough to stop rising and the paos would turn out "kik kik" meaning depressed and dented.

Her daughter had a steamer whose bottom piece was burnt. She took the top layers and recycled them (on the left). Another child also burnt the bottom piece (right) and now the top layers are sitting beautifully on top of a kuali!! All the pieces have been in her kitchen for more than 15 years. How resourceful she is. I would give her a gold medal for recycling and saving our world.

Our now cooked buns - at 11 a.m. (The steaming took 25 minutes ) And we made 62 palm sized buns.

Pearly and Aminah relaxing  and eating the lovely buns after the cell group meeting at 10 p.m.. Yum yum.

Below Miss Ching (soon to be a bride) singing the praises of the buns.....Best in Miri.

Whisper : Would you like to have the recipe?

P/S I hope my friend's Monday TEA GANG in Sibu would enjoy these photos - since ML likes paos...I am opening a window for him to look at the beautiful hands which make paos in Miri!! ML - no paos this time - just photos....Cheers.


fufu said...

wow... i wanna eat bao =p

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hello Fufu
Nice to hear from you!! I am sure you are having the best of times in GErmany!
Show us more pictures of people and plants there.
Thanks for dropping by.

Bengbeng said...

i have a fren who is a leading pao maker in sibu. he agrees abt the dough being super sensitive

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Nice to hear from you...and thanks for reconfirming the super sensitive nature of the pao dough...We always have to keep learning and relearning haven't we?

Thanks..Must come and meet your fren...Cheers to more paos in the making.

Anonymous said...

Thank you auntie


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Thanks for writing in.

Don't forget to read a lot of books!

Movies are good too - they will give you creative ideas.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Sarawakiana, the smiles in the picture tells how good your paus are.
You are good as not easy to make....and something my wife will not attempt.
Fortunately we here have Chinese, Taiwan, HK , Thai, Vietnamese stores selling paus, and my favourites are those from Vietnam.
My wife says its because the ladies who make them look sexy, ha ha. Lee.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Uncle Lee
The girls are a happy lot with good smiles..My mentor has a secret recipe - lots of dried Chinese mushcrooms and jicama (sengkuang)...once we get the dough right - that's the beginning of good paos for life. But according to my Ah Chee (Ah Chia) sometimes the dough can malfunction too.
I must one day try the Vietnamese paos ...But your wife is right - when you buy something to eat - look at the illusionary quality added ...
At one time the sale of Luncheon meat in Sibu increased by hundred times when a beautiful young lady was the chief sales person...that was history and we still meet up with her today....still very very pretty now grandmother. But my siblings and I still have soft spot for Luncheon Meat!!

天鵝江畔 said...

it makes me so hungry......

Sarawakiana@2 said...

I finally learned the last Kung Fu steps of making good paos...

May be can go to Blue Ocean.....tell Tony...Smile...


Ah Ngao said...

Cantonese char siew pao is the best..!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Ah Ngao
You must have a very sweet tooth or you love Cantonese cuisine more than another others. Some people love its colour.
Char siu is nice by itself especially when newly made.
Slurp! Crunch!
Thanks for visiting.

Ah Ngao said...

i'm Cantonese,..hehe

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Ah Ngao...
Thanks must be nice to be Cantonese and enjoy all the great cuisine - especially char siu.

What about the whole roast pig? Can you do that?

Anonymous said...

It is really nice to have a teacher like you have -someone who would really teach you how to make baos like these. My sisters went to a proper class in Miri but they seldom make because so much work involve. So easier to buy a few each time they says. Also when want to buy bamboo shoot also difficult. Nowadays tinned bamboo shoot so expensive too. Any solution? Now I know need two steamers.
I want to try myself. heheheh.

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Justine
Nice to hear from you!!
No it really depends whether you have to make the baos for a good reason e.g. for many grandchildren who come for a visit and you make together.
Or when you have the right ingredients and you can have a good group to make for.

It is certainly complicated...not like frying chicken wings or drumsticks.....after three hours of hard work...your loved ones eat three baos at one go each!!

But you enjoy the making....and the love you spread around....

But if you are young and on the go...this is not the scenario I suppose.


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